Liberals Move To Fast-Track Passage of MJ Bill

Liberals Move To Fast-Track Passage of MJ Bill
Posted by CN Staff on October 08, 2003 at 17:35:04 PT
By Jim Brown
Source: Canadian Press 
Ottawa -- The Liberal government, brushing aside objections by some of its own backbenchers, is moving to speed up passage of controversial legislation to decriminalize simple possession of marijuana. House leader Don Boudria served notice Wednesday that he intends to refer the bill for early committee study, after just three hours of debate in the full Commons. The official referral will come Thursday. It will put the bill in the hands of an all-party special committee that is already on record - in a report delivered last year - as favouring decriminalization in principle.
"To refer it back to that committee, to me, is just normal," said Justice Minister Martin Cauchon. "Because they have the expertise, they're going to be able to deal with it in the fastest way." Derek Lee, a Toronto-area MP and key member of the committee, noted it heard extensive evidence last year before bringing in a report that urged the government to eliminate jail time for possession of small amounts of pot. Lee suggested the second round of hearings, on the detailed provisions of the bill, will be short and sweet.  "We'd want to hear from law enforcement people, there might be a couple of (other) envelopes where we'd like to hear something. But generally I think we've heard most of what we want to hear already." Fellow Liberal Dan McTeague was outraged, calling the government's move to speed up the legislative process "reckless and irresponsible." The committee chosen by Cauchon and Boudria is "stacked by the very people who have been advocates for decriminalization for some time," said McTeague. "It's hardly a committee that's going to be objective." McTeague, one of the most outspoken opponents of the bill since it was brought in by Cauchon last spring, branded it "ineffective and lousy legislation" that needs extensive revision. Boudria, however, suggested it could conceivably be law before the fall session of Parliament is over. "There's certainly enough time to pass it before Christmas," he said. "But of course that would depend largely on how many witnesses the committee decides to hear and so on." Other MPs who spoke privately were skeptical of Boudria's claim. One Liberal backbencher said few believe the House will continue to sit after Nov. 15, the date the party will anoint former finance minister Paul Martin as the successor to Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Martin has said he favours decriminalization in principle, but some of his backbench supporters believe he may back away from the Cauchon bill as internal dissent grows. John McKay, chairman of the Ontario Liberal caucus and a staunch Martin backer, said he hasn't personally made up his mind how to vote on the bill. "I have some concerns that the marijuana that legislators are talking about has probably been experienced when they were younger," said McKay. "The marijuana that is currently on the streets is significantly more potent." He suggested it would be a "pretty optimistic" timetable to get the bill through Parliament by next spring. Martin is expected to call an election around April, cutting off work on any legislation that hasn't passed by then. The bill sponsored by Cauchon would not strictly legalize pot possession. But it would make possession of up to 15 grams - enough to roll about 15 or 20 joints - a minor offence punishable by a range of fines. Offenders would no longer face jail time or be saddled with a criminal record that would follow them through life. By contrast, the bill would take a tough line against illicit growers and traffickers, especially those linked to organized crime. The maximum penalty for grow operations would be boosted to 14 years from the current seven. The penalty for large-scale trafficking is already life, although 20 years has been the stiffest sentence handed out in recent years. The government has also set aside $245 million for enhanced law enforcement efforts, as well as information, research and treatment programs aimed at discouraging drug use, particularly among young people. Complete Title: Liberals Move To Fast-Track Passage of Marijuana BillSource: Canadian Press Author: Jim BrownPublished: Wednesday, October 8, 2003Copyright: 2003 The Canadian PressRelated Articles & Web Site:Cannabis News Canadian Links Move To Fast-Track Marijuana Bill Ministers Debate Pot Law Marijuana Reform: Provinces
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Comment #3 posted by goneposthole on October 08, 2003 at 19:33:27 PT
If you want to Rodeo...
you gotta learn to rope and ride."It's hardly a committee that's going to be objective."-Dan McTeagueSince when have any laws prohibiting the use of cannabis been objective?"The government has also set aside $245 million for enhanced law enforcement efforts, as well as information, research and treatment programs aimed at discouraging drug use, particularly among young people."'Enhanced law enforcement efforts'-looks like the DEA is up to their old tricks again. Prohibitionists can't stop. Can't stop spending money to stop a plant. Can't stop arresting people because they smoke a plant called cannabis. I thought Rush had a problem.Another bumper crop is on the way from the 'fields' and to be distributed all across the continent, coast-to-coast. Cannabis can't be stopped either. Happy trails
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Comment #2 posted by ekim on October 08, 2003 at 18:45:15 PT
gooden Kapt --now we are talken-gona regulate
By contrast, the bill would take a tough line against illicit growers and traffickers, especially those linked to organized crime. 
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on October 08, 2003 at 17:59:24 PT:
Looks like the Grits may have woke up
They know that they are facing widespread dissatisfaction caused by the now demonstrably unpopular American styled (and American *pushed*) War on Drugs that Washington has tried with too much success to ram down Canadian throats. Johnny Pee and his histrionics about BC Bud ( I still say it's hype) being the 'crack of marijuana' didn't help the cause of Canuck antis, either; American pols tend to assume an unconscious air of arrogance when they preach to the locals about the dangers of 'druuuuuuhgs'. Said preaching was an insult to the intelligence of anyone with an over room temp IQ. It also demonstrated the *a priori* assumptions of the Busch Cabal that they can treat any nation, any way they like, international laws, treaties, and just plain good manners among old friends be damned.And, finally, they simply cannot afford such an expensive luxury as an American style WoSD. There, like here, the financial and budgetary chickens have *finally* come home to roost. Take a look at their online newspapers; I do evey day. They are full of one financial problem after another. The newly elected Liberals have big plans, but little money. Things are tight up there; the smart move would be decrim and taxation. And many of them, who couldn't care less or are mildly hostile to the idea will swallow their objections when facing their fund-strapped riderships and vote in favor of it. It's time to pay the piper, and their pockets are nowhere near as deep as Uncle's. In this case, 'keeping up with the Joneses' will bankrupt them, and they know it. A Grit move to decrim and quietly let the matter fade into obscurity would suit many of Canuck pols just fine.
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